RIP | 

Irish soldier (50s) killed in parachute accident in Spain was due to get married

He had taken part in more than 200 parachute jumps and was a member of the Army Black Knights parachute display team.

Declan O'Connell in uniform in Lebanon

Declan O'Connell

Declan O'Connell© Facebook / Sunvale AFC

Stock Photo

Tributes were paid to Mr O'Connell, who was from Newbridge, Co Kildare (pictured)

Philip Ryan, Laura Lynott and Conor

A member of the Defence Forces who died in a tragic parachuting accident in Spain had been due to get married within weeks.

Declan O’Connell, who was aged in his 50s and from Newbridge, Co Kildare, died yesterday morning during a holiday in Spain. It is understood that his parachute failed to open.

The soldier was not on duty and was taking part in the activity in his private time.

Declan O'Connell

Mr O’Connell was due to get married in April to his long-term partner. He was busy planning his pre-wedding stag party for next weekend.

He had taken part in more than 200 parachute jumps and was a member of the Army Black Knights parachute display team.

Friends described him being “happy” and “full of life” in the days before his death.

The loss of the popular Newbridge man caused a deep sense of shock.

Declan O'Connell© Facebook / Sunvale AFC

A statement from the Defence Forces said: “The Defence Forces can confirm that a serving member has died in a parachuting accident in Spain. He was off duty at the time. More details will follow when all family members have been informed.”

Brendan Ryan, the chairperson of Newbridge Sarsfields GAA Club, where Mr O’Connell was a long-time member and coach, described a tangible air of sadness in the town where the man nicknamed ‘Doc’ grew up.

“Doc was a very permanent member at Sarsfields,” Mr Ryan told the Irish Independent. “He played at most levels, he coached too.

“Doc was due to get married in April. He had a stag party planned for next weekend.

“He was a talented musician and played guitar in a band. I only saw him playing in a local pub in town a few weeks ago.

Tributes were paid to Mr O'Connell, who was from Newbridge, Co Kildare (pictured)

“We were talking and he was in great form about getting married.”

Mr Ryan added: “He went on holiday to do parachute jumps every year.

“Unfortunately there was an accident and everyone is in complete shock at the loss of Doc.

“Doc was a huge member of the club the last number of years. He was highly thought of. He was such a good player and coach, and such a talented musician. He could sing well also. Doc was the kind of man who loved life, he loved being with his family and he was a really good man, who helped mentor the young here at the club.

“He really lived life to the full. We are all very sad about the loss of Doc.”

Mr O’Connell was described as a senior player, with experience coaching the second team and managing the underage teams.

Kildare District Darts League wrote online last night: “Some sad news to report this evening.

“The committee would like to pass on its condolences to the family and friends of Declan O’Connell of Flanagans darts team, who tragically passed away.

“Doc has been a KDDL member for over a decade, and won the league in 2017 and last season with Flanagans.

“As a mark of respect to Doc and his family, this Tuesday’s singles tournament in The Townhouse has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for a later date.

“Our thoughts are with Doc, his family and friends and all at Flanagans darts team.

“RIP Doc, KDDL Committee.”

In a post on Facebook, Suncroft AFC said: “Devastating news breaking today of the sudden passing of Doc O'Connell. Doc was former captain of our over 35s. Anyone that knew him as a player would tell you he was tough as nails but an absolute gent. It is a dark day and we send our condolences to Doc's family, friends and Defence Force colleagues. May you Rest In Peace Doc.”

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